After a day off due to snow at the Big A we are back in action with a good ten race card that features the $100,000 Fred Cappy Capossela, a six furlong test on the inner track that drew a field of seven.
The Rick Violette trained Clawback is back in action after an impressive victory in the Jimmy Winkfield on Jan. 21 which was his first go against winners. The colt is 6-5 on the morning line and looks as if he is going to be tough to beat.
We have a couple of key Derby preps on tap on Saturday, each with 85 points up for grabs (50 for first) in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
The Todd Pletcher trained Verrazano makes his stakes debut in the Grade 2 $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby and is the 4-5 morning line favorite.
The colt has already taken plenty of action in the future pools, closing at 9-1 in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
Looking at a couple of the major Sportsbooks the colt is listed at +900 at Sportsbook.com and Carbon Sports.
The price is certainly going to plummet if he runs big. The colt already earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his win against first level optional claimers on Feb. 2 at Gulfstream Park, and that figure is higher than the final number for any of the major Derby preps to date.
On the left coast we have a really good match-up between Flashback and Goldencents in the Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita Park.
The Bob Baffert trained Flashback is perfect in two starts, last out winning the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis in gate to wire fashion. Baffert has won the San Felipe four times. The colt is the 8-5 morning line favorite.
Last year’s Kentucky Derby winning trainer Doug O’Neill will saddle Goldencents (2-1), who has accumulated 24 points on the Derby Trail to date. The colt won the Grade 3 Sham in his last outing on Jan. 5.
The race looks likely to be decided between those two foes, but keep an eye on the price of Hear the Ghost, who will be going two turns for the first time for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
The colt won the six furlong San Pedro in his last outing and is bred to run all day.
I have my selections and analysis for both Derby preps in my Best Plays Report.
Analysis: Saints Alive set the early fractions and gave way inside the final furlong to check in fifth last out at this level, regressing off a third place finish two back in his first go for the Canani barn. Two back he dueled for the early lead and could not finish, checking in four lengths behind the winner Won Great Classic, who came back to beat state bred Alw-1 optional claimers in his next outing on Jan. 21. Blinkers go on today and this guy owns solid early and mid pace numbers and has won three times on the inner track.
Shmooz Talker pressed the early pace took over the lead and weakened in the stretch to finish fifth last out against open $16,000 foes. The runner up in that race was Alston Gunter, who came back to beat open $12,500 claimers in his next outing on Feb. 15. He makes his third start off the bench and the low % barn finds a good spot here dropping into a restricted claimer. This guy may move forward if the track comes up wet.
WIN: #5 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 4,5 / 1,3,4,5
TRI: 4,5 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,2,3,4,5
Analysis: Clawback was a good looking winner last out in the Jimmy Winkfield earning a career top speed fig and is perfect in two trips on the inner track. The third place finisher Rubyandpearls came out of the race to win the Java Gold in his next outing on Feb. 10. Two back our top pick broke his maiden in impressive fashion and two runners he beat in that race came back to win next out. Three back he ran in a highly rated maiden race, running second to Vyjack, who has come back to win three stakes, last out taking the Gotham (G3). Orb was also in that maiden race and he came back to beat Alw-1 optional claimers and the Fountain of Youth (G2) in his next two starts. The Violette trainee has worked quickly since his last outing and looks tough here as the short priced favorite.
Maleeh tracked the early pace and finished up strongly under a hand ride to break his maiden in his debut here on Jan. 6. He did not beat a real tough group, but he did it like there is still plenty left in the tank. The barn is always tough with second out runners and this guy has a nice pedigree. He was a $350,000 Keeneland purchase, by Indian Charlie out of the multiple stakes winner Gold Mover ($1.5 million).
Whiskey Romeo makes his first start since winning the Marylander at Laurel Park to remain perfect in three starts. The colt overcame stumbling badly at the start and grabbing a quarter to win the seven furlong race, his second stakes win. He is in good hands with the Tony Dutrow barn that is 26% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. The colt is out of the stakes winner Yoursmineours ($143,290).
WIN: #5 to win at 7-5 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,3,4,5
TRI: 1,5 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,3,4,5,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Tampa Bay Downs:
Tam Race 9 The Hillsborough G3 (4:45 ET) 3 Mystical Star 4-1 5 Forces of Darkness 9-2 4 Kya One 5-1 7 Old Tune 7-2
Analysis: Mystical Star is making her first start since a neck loss in the Long Island 'Cap (G3) last November at Aqueduct., The winner of that race was Starformer, who came back to win The Very One (G3) in her next outing at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 16. The third place finisher in the race was stablemate Aigue Marine, who came back to beat Alw-2 optional claimers in her next outing on March 7 at Gulfstream Park. Our top pick also won the New York (G2) last June and was only beaten two lengths in a runner up finish in the Spinster (G1) on poly last fall at Keeneland. She has been prepping at Payson for the Clement barn that is 22% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
Forces of Darkness is one of two in here sent out by the Chad Brown barn. The filly makes her U.S. debut here and first start since a fourth place finish last October in the Prix de Royallieu (G2) at Longchamp. She won two of seven starts last year including the Prix Minerve (G3). Last May she was beaten in a Group 1 by just a half-length and looks like she fits here. The barn is 28% winners with newcomers to the barn and always strong off the bench.
WIN: #3 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 3,4,5,7
TRI: 3,5 / 3,4,5,7 / 3,4,5,6,7
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R2: #10 This Ones for Nina 12-1
R6: #6 He Can Run 12-1
R10: #7 Bernardo 15-1
Mike DempseyMike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick. Mike also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike each day with daily picks from Belmont and Churchill Downs or capture the 2nd jewel in the Triple Crown with Mike's Preakness Stakes package. You can also get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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Jerry SessaJerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins. Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.
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